Nestled between Oregon’s Cascade Mountains and the beautiful Coast Range, the Willamette Valley is home to two thirds of the state’s wineries, but there’s so much more. Your days can be spent jumping from a tasting room to a whitewater-rafting adventure to a hike through old-growth trees ending at a pristine waterfall. And you can even look for ornaments hidden throughout the Willamette National Forest, which also doubles as a contest entry.
Throughout the Willamette Valley’s many thriving downtown districts, you can spend your afternoons browsing local shops filled with handmade crafts and farmers markets selling fresh produce and local crafts. Or you can enjoy an urban wine tour, visit a historic museum or play with the animals at a sweet farm stay.
Spark joy on a loved one’s face this holiday season by giving them a gift that takes them back to a memorable time in the Willamette Valley. Here are some ideas to get you started. Don’t worry, there’s no harm in treating yourself, too.
Shopping Districts in the Willamette Valley
For the wine lovers on your list, you’re in luck. You can splurge in Newberg, where 12 independent shops in the charming, walkable downtown area show off their locally made gifts next to local eateries and coffee spots. Make your way through charming Dundee, Dayton and McMinnville for more wine-focused treasures. Along the Interstate-5 corridor, find vibrant downtown districts filled with locally owned shops, like those in Salem, Corvallis and Eugene, where dozens of businesses are open for in-person shopping or curbside pickup. Find handmade art created on-site, jewelers and home decor to decorate for the holidays. Antiquers will have a blast finding treasures in downtown Canby and at Albany Antique Mall in downtown Albany. Many businesses offer online shopping and gift certificates when in-person shopping is not possible.
Eugene, Cascades & Coast lists four ways to support local businesses, and the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce holiday guide includes details about delivery and online ordering. Those shopping around Florence can vote on their favorite shop decorations and enter to win a raffle. Discover more Oregon-made products online with Built Oregon Marketplace, a new directory celebrating the state’s maker culture.
Staying safe during COVID-19: New COVID-19 guidelines by the Oregon Health Authority make shopping in person safe, giving you peace of mind. During the two-week statewide freeze, retail stores are limited to a maximum of 75% capacity. If you’d rather not shop in person, many stores offer online shopping and curbside pickup. Remember to wear a face covering indoors and outdoors when physical distancing isn’t possible (it’s required), and pay attention to signs that may indicate direction of traffic.
Home Gifts in the Willamette Valley
This year’s holiday market looks a little different in the Willamette Valley, but it still highlights farmers, baristas, soap makers and painters at the annual Salem Holiday Market and Eugene Saturday Market. For the coffee enthusiasts in your life, pick up some coffee beans from Barry Strong Coffee in Salem, which offers regional delivery, or Farmers Union Coffee Roasters in Eugene, which ships right to your door. Plant lovers can never have too many succulents, so find the perfect botanical gift at Kraemer’s in McMinnville, Uflora in Newberg or Johnson Brothers Garden Market in Eugene. Indulge in that new (or used) book smell at independent bookstores like Third Street Books in McMinnville, Smith Family Bookstore in Eugene or Browsers’ Bookstore in Corvallis.
Clothes and Designs in the Willamette Valley
For the savvy dresser in your life, find fashion pieces from Willamette Valley designers like POC-owned eco-clothing brand Sweet Skins in Eugene, crochet sweaters at Black-owned Made With Sol in Eugene or fashionable statement pieces empowering voices of color at Corvallis-based People of Colour Clothing. Pick through a trove of local artisan products and curated home and garden items at The Arbor in Salem, NewTwist in Eugene or Pulp & Circumstance, which offers free delivery within 10 miles of its Newberg shop.
You can find the perfect fedora from the Northwest Hat Co. in Eugene, or head to Newberg to find one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories from Nikki Jane’s Boutique and vintage T-shirts at Velour. If you’re looking for a present of athletic gear, head to Running Princess Athletic in Corvallis, whose mission is to empower women to reach their fitness goals.
Food and Drink in the Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley is world-renowned for its pinot noir, with delightful tasting-room opportunities year-round, including winter’s cellar season. For your foodie family and friends, grab handcrafted cheese from Briar Rose Creamery in Dundee or decadent truffles from Euphoria Chocolate Company in Eugene. Grab a gift card to a tasting-room experience, or pick up a few bottles from Silverton Wine Bar & Bistro, Beacon Hill Winery in Gaston, Black-owned Maison Noir Wines in McMinnville or Emerson Vineyards in Monmouth for your friends, but make sure to snag some for your own holiday meals. Craft distilleries and breweries also shine in the valley. Spiritopia offers apple brandy, whiskey and ready-to-go cocktails at their new tasting room in downtown Albany, while Xicha Brewing in Salem pours house-brewed European ales and lagers paired with crave-worthy tacos. Sweets make the perfect gift, so be sure to check out Barbara Storey’s Rum Cakes in Independence, vegan Small Things Bakery in Corvallis and McMinnville’s Crave Mini Donuts, which offers free in-town delivery on Thursdays and Fridays. It’s hard to go wrong with giving gift certificates, so stuff those stockings with one from Salem’s So Cheesy, Newberg’s G&W Caribbean Smoked BBQ or Silverton’s The Old Oak Oven for those comfort-food cravings.
For the best Oregon wine deals, check out The Giving Season through Dec. 31, 2020.
Experiences in the Willamette Valley
Book a future trip for a loved one by purchasing a gift certificate or membership to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in Salem, or the Albany Regional Museum. Give your friends something to look forward to with a future wine tour via A Vineyard Wine Tour, Access Oregon or Dirty Radish, a Black woman-owned operation. Adrenaline junkies will love a gift certificate to get on the water with Springfield-based Oregon Whitewater Adventures or to take to the skies on a hot-air balloon ride with Vista Balloon Adventures out of Newberg. Surprise the kids with tickets to some of Eugene’s top attractions: the Adventure! Children’s Museum, the Oregon Air and Space Museum, and the Museum of Natural and Cultural History. For adults in need of some stress release, gift them some time at Springfield’s Escape the Room Oregon, Salem and Springfield’s Oregon Axe or Eugene’s Demolition Zone.
Hotels in the Willamette Valley
There’s nothing better than a comfy bed to lay your head on after a long day, and the Willamette Valley is home to many unique places to find the perfect present of a good night’s rest. A farm stay at Sweet Springs Family Farm Bed & Breakfast in Cottage Grove is great for animal lovers, while a gift certificate to the new Graduate Eugene is sure to be memorable, as each guest room showcases elements of Oregon’s lush landscapes and unique character. Your secret Santa will definitely appreciate a relaxing night at McMenamins Hotel Oregon in McMinnville or a future getaway to Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde. Find other gift-certificate options and great hotel deals at Expedia and the Willamette Valley Visitors Association.